— 8 min read

SMART goals are a popular methodology to set company and team goals. Many CEOs and team leaders love this ystem. They view it as a way to make sure goals are clear and specific. After all, while every person and company has a vision or a business plan, a successful company also has specific goals that help them reach their potential and not stray from the path to success. 

In this article you get an overview of how to set SMART goals and you can check if your goals are SMART goals. In addition, we'll take a look at how you can go even further and get the most out of your SMART goals with the Objectives and Key Results methodology.

SMART Goals

Set Your Goals

Even the simple act of writing your goals down has a huge upside. In a Harvard MBA study they found that after ten years the 3% who had written down goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% of the class combined. And you'll achieve even more when you put enough thought into them. If you make sure your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. SMART for short. 

However, not all goals that you set are SMART. And a company will lose from that. That is why, we made an interactive application to test out if your goals are really SMART or just some random ideas of where you want to go.

SMART Goals 

You can implement SMART goals in any part of an organization. They can be set for personal development, project management or for the entire company. If you're not sure if it's worth the time to plan it out for your company, try setting personal SMART goals and see what happens.

But to get started with setting great goals, you must first take a look at what SMART goals actually are.

  • Specific – they are clearly understood by everyone in the team;
  • Measurable – you can always get a clear idea of how well you're doing;
  • Achievable – when planning, there's no point in deciding to fulfill all dreams in a year. Make sure you think what you really could do;
  • Relevant – the goals you set must be important for your company. The goal shouldn't be "Let's hire 20 people" but "Let's increase the revenue enough in order to hire 20 people.";
  • Time-bound – they have a specific due date for completion to resist the urge to say "okay, we'll do it next year."

Although the acronym is linear, you can't always answer the questions in this order. And the way to approach this problem depends on your company.

In general, you can't say if something is achievable without factoring all other aspects. To understand if your goal is relevant, it must already be specific. But you first have to set a timeline to say what you can measure in this time.

No Excuses

SMART goals take away the excuses like "we'll do it next year". Or "it never was achievable anyway." When the time is up, you are forced to face reality. The good news is, that if you fail you get a clear overview of what you must do better next time.

Because, let's be honest, it's easy to set vague unrealistic goals like "Let's make a lot of money in the future." But these are more like dreams than goals. And they definitely are not good for you, your team, or your company. You can never say that you have achieved them, there is no way to measure your success.

An App to Check Your Goals

In Weekdone, we have developed a simple app that helps you determine if your goals are smart enough for success. Write down your goal and check how SMART it is.

Take the Weekdone's SMART goal test here.

SMART Is Only the First Step

Setting goals that are SMART, is only the beginning. While it is a good way to start thinking about your goals, to achieve true success, one must dig deeper. 

Mindtools writes: "Various interpretations of SMART have meant that it can lose its effectiveness or be misunderstood. Some people believe that SMART doesn't work well for long-term goals because it lacks flexibility, while others suggest that it might stifle creativity."

OKRs – Update to The SMART Model

That is why you should take a look at the OKR goal setting framework. OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) is a way of setting quarterly team and company goals. With OKRs you set inspirational goals (Objectives). And to each Objective you assign a measurable Key Result that shows the specific metrics you need to accomplish to achieve your goal. 

Updating Your Goals Weekly

There is a big problem with setting goals in many companies. That is, after you set a goal, it is forgotten. And it doesn't matter how SMART and well-thought out your goal is. Unless you actively keep it in front of you all the time.

OKRs are usually set for a year or a quarter. However, they should always be in front of you. You must always ask yourself: "How will what I am doing right now help me accomplish my goals?". After all, goals without deadlines are dreams. And business can't be built only on dreams.

With OKRs you need to update your progress towards your Key Results weekly to make sure you and your team are on the right track. 

OKRs need to be transparent and public across your entire company. That helps to ensure everybody knows what you are working on and what is everyone's part in moving the company forward. That helps to build team spirit and alignment across your teams. 

The idea behind SMART is already been built into the OKRs. It is in your Key Results that need to be specific, achievable, and measurable. And as OKRs are set for a quarter, they are automatically time-bound. So, OKR is like a SMART goal but with a focus on getting practical things done.

If you think that you are ready to use OKRs and put some thought into your goals, you can sign up to Weekdone and start measuring the impact of your goals.